Today in the News
Don't tell Wendy Brown that a business can't charge a sales tax and survive. She's been collecting the tax every time she gives a Schnauzer or a golden doodle a shampoo and a clip at her shop in south Minneapolis. So to her, Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to lower the tax rate and spread it to a wider variety of businesses -- such as hair salons for humans -- is about fairness.
"I'm just surprised that hair salons have not been taxed," said Brown, owner since 1976 of Wendy's Doghouse, a pet grooming shop a few blocks west of the Minnehaha Dog Park. "I've been paying sales tax forever."
"The lines have been drawn over the years, and they've been relatively arbitrary," said Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue. "There's some people that say the rationale is simply, it depends on who was in the room when the bill was written."
"It's really silly that we've narrowed our sales tax so much," said Wade Vitalis, owner of the Drive-In Restaurant in Taylors Falls (closed for the winter) and Gransburg, Wis. Vitalis has been collecting sales tax for 26 years, adding it to the price of each patty melt and butterscotch malt. When businesses argue that they wouldn't be able to handle it and still prosper, he doesn't buy it.
"I don't have a lot of sympathy for that argument," he said. "If you can't figure out how to do it, someone will, because this is America."
Minnesota Public Radio
Dayton wants to boost funding for English language learning
CHASKA, Minn. — In hopes of boosting student achievement, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to boost funding for the state's English language learning programs by about $4.5 million a year, a 12 percent increase over current levels.
The governor's proposal is aimed at helping the 65,000 students in Minnesota for whom English is not a first language.
The state spends $40 million a year helping those students learn English, while they also study math, reading, writing, and other subjects.
Around the State
This week, cabinet level commissioners continued bringing the governor’s budget proposal to the people of Minnesota. Yesterday, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller visited with college students in Moorhead, discussing Governor Dayton’s proposed investments in student financial aid. Today, Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson is in Duluth with Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon to discuss the governor’s proposed investments in children’s mental health. The governor’s cabinet will continue traveling across Minnesota next week, holding conversations with Minnesotans about Governor Dayton’s Budget for a Better Minnesota.
Greater Minnesota faces housing shortages, a major problem when trying to attract and retain workers and their families near employment opportunities. That’s why The Governor’s Housing and Job Growth budget initiative will provide $10 million through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s (MHFA) Economic Development and Housing Challenge initiative to help communities and employers address this issue.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tackled important issues in 2012 and accomplished major successes – achievements which touched the lives of Minnesotans across the state. From responding to historic flooding in east-central Minnesota and Duluth, to the destructive July winds in the state’s northern forests, to a drought which culminated in severe wildfire conditions, DNR staff worked with Minnesota communities to minimize impact, complete emergency infrastructure repairs and to respond to disasters as they were unfolding.
“Gov. Mark Dayton has directed all his agency commissioners, including me, to make Minnesota work for Minnesotans,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “DNR’s accomplishments in 2012 show what we can achieve when we collaborate with others and address hard issues.”
On Nov. 27, the regional Citizen Forums on the Environment will begin with forums in Rochester and Bloomington.
The forums are an opportunity for Minnesotans to interact with state agency commissioners and staff, and learn more about Minnesota’s Environment & Energy Report Card. Those attending the forums will be asked to answer key questions and submit more in-depth ideas for consideration.
The State of Minnesota wants to hear what Minnesotans’ priorities and visions are for the environment. The input gathered at the forums will be compiled and presented to the Dayton Administration at a statewide Environmental Congress next March.
The Minnesota Environmental Congress and the Citizens Forums leading up to it are the result of Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32. To assess Minnesota’s progress toward clean air, water and energy, the Environmental Quality Board is convening Citizen Forums around the state to engage citizens in constructive dialogue, identify environmental challenges, and define a vision for Minnesota’s environmental future.
Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon recently visited the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minnesota and experienced the full-workings of the facility, including a tour, safety and survival skills training. The visit culminated in a ride in an F-16 Fighter Jet. The Lieutenant Governor donned an anti-gravity suit, or G suit, and rode in the F16, experiencing complex aerial maneuvers – even taking the wheel at one point.
The Lieutenant Governor said she was impressed with “the precision, expertise and professional capabilities of both ground and air personnel” and that she feels “confident that Minnesota has a superior National Guard”.
Gov. Dayton talking to a student following the roundtable discussion.
Governor Mark Dayton continued his commitment to job creation and economic prosperity in Minnesota today, as his “Working for Minnesota Jobs” tour visited Brooklyn Park. The Governor hosted a roundtable discussion with information technology leaders in Minnesota’s retail sector. The Governor was joined by industry leaders and top CIOs from major Minnesota retailers, including Best Buy, Gander Mountain and Supervalu. The roundtable was held at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park.
The discussion focused on new strategies to connect Minnesota workers with the skills and training they need to keep good-paying IT jobs here in the state. Minnesota retailers discussed the challenge of finding qualified IT workers located within the state. Often, businesses rely on advanced enterprise information technologies, such as Oracle Retail. Without local training programs for specific software, many retail companies must import workers or employ workers from outside of Minnesota.
In response to this shortfall, a group of private companies based in and around Minnesota, including Gander Mountain, Mills Fleet Farm, Maurice's, Orscheln Farm and Home, Scheels Sports, and others, have established the Oracle Retail User Group. This group, representing more than $2 billion a year in revenue, has launched an initiative to improve the skills of the Minnesota workforce in this key area of Minnesota’s economy. The Oracle Retail User Group is forming a public-private partnership with North Hennepin Technical College to establish an Oracle Retail Center of Excellence that will train Minnesota workers and keep good-paying jobs here in our state.
Governor Dayton proclaims October Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the State of Minnesota
Breast cancer touches the lives of many Minnesotans and according to the National Cancer Institute, will affect one in every eight women, with most having no family history of the disease. An increasing number of women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. When diagnosed early, breast cancer is highly treatable and the best way to detect breast cancer in early stages is through annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40.Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides both a time to honor those lost to the disease as well as an opportunity to empower women in their fight against breast cancer by spreading the message of prevention and early detection through annual screening mammograms.
Financial and social barriers often prevent women from seeking screening mammograms. In addition to raising awareness, fundraising initiatives such as the Be Pink initiative, help institutions like the Park Nicollet Jane Brattain Breast Center make mammography accessible to more women in our Minnesotan community.
Governor Dayton joins Magnetation employees for a tour of mining facilities
Governor Mark Dayton’s “Working for Minnesota Jobs” tour continued today on the Iron Range, focused on value-added mining opportunities that will get Minnesotans back to work.
Governor Dayton was joined by IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich on a tour of Magnetation, Inc., a company founded in 2006 that uses low-grade natural ore tailings to produce marketable iron ore concentrate. Following the tour, the Governor and Commissioner Sertich hosted a roundtable discussion with area mining industry leaders at NRRI Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory.
Minnesota is one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore with over 100 million tons of taconite being mined each year. In 2011 the mining industry contributed over 5,800 direct Minnesota jobs totaling $474 million in wages. Minnesota is also home to four billion ton deposits of critical and strategic metals.
Working for Minnesota Jobs
Continuing his strong commitment to job creation and economic prosperity, Governor Dayton is traveling statewide to identify opportunities and barriers to economic growth in key sectors of Minnesota’s economy. The Governor is meeting directly with business owners, workers, and local leaders to seek input on what measures should be taken in the upcoming legislative session to enhance Minnesota’s economic competitiveness, stimulate private sector job growth, and open new doors of employment opportunity for Minnesota workers.
Welder Duane Dopp of Herzog Contracting Corp. waves to a passing Hiawatha LRT train shortly before the weld occurred this afternoon on the flyover or train bridge built over Interstate 35W in Minneapolis between the Cedar Riverside and Metrodome LRT stations.
The Central Corridor Light Rail system got one weld closer to completion today, when construction crews joined Central Corridor track to the existing Hiawatha track this afternoon. It happened between the Metrodome and Cedar Riverside light rail stations.
The connection will create a 63-mile passenger rail network for the Twin Cities, 11 miles for Central, 12 miles for Hiawatha and 40 miles for Northstar. The network will increase to 78 miles when the Southwest light rail transit begins service in 2018. Southwest will enable riders to travel from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, State Capitol and downtown St. Paul – without changing trains.
The Central Corridor light rail, now 68 percent complete, is expected to begin revenue operation in 2014. Between now and then, construction crews will finish the heavy construction, install systems to power the light rail vehicles, and finally begin testing the light rail vehicles.
Today’s weld is more than symbolic. It’s our own, updated version of the “golden spike” for the transcontinental railroad, as it connects the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to provide environmentally friendly, affordable transit options to the residents of St. Paul, Minneapolis and beyond.